Hornets Closing Out Homestand Against Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets vs. Charlotte Hornets, Spectrum Center
by Sam Perley

The Charlotte Hornets will look to end their four-game homestand on a winning note when they welcome the Houston Rockets to town for an early 5 PM EST tipoff this evening at Spectrum Center.

It was another last-second finish on Thursday night for the Hornets, but unfortunately, they found themselves on the other end of a tough 114-112 loss to the visiting Denver Nuggets. Charlotte’s first three games on its current homestand have been decided by a grand total of just 11 points, although the close outcomes are only serving as increased motivation, not discouragement.

“Great spirits. They just want to get better,” said Coach Borrego after Friday’s practice. “Competing, playing at an extremely high level right now. Win at Toronto, take the best team in the NBA [Milwaukee] to the wire. With San Antonio, we had a shot to win it and had a shot to win it last night against the third-best team in the West. The guys are fantastic. The spirits are high. There’s a lot of positive juice and momentum right now.”

The Hornets lost in Houston, 125-110, back on Feb. 4, a contest that was tied at the 6:48 mark of the fourth quarter. Terry Rozier and Miles Bridges both had 20-point showings (with the latter adding a career-high 15 rebounds) and Devonte’ Graham contributing 16 points and 10 assists. James Harden recorded a game-high 40 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists for the Rockets, who also got a 22-point outing (6-of-11 from three) courtesy of Danuel House Jr.

Houston is 10-4 over its last 14 games, although has dropped two straight outings. Harden is putting up 31.2 PPG on 43.6% shooting (34.9% from three), 7.5 APG and 2.0 SPG during this stretch and is coming off a 4-of-17 performance at home against the Clippers on Thursday night. Russell Westbrook (rest) will end up missing both games against the Hornets this season, meaning wings Robert Covington, House Jr., and Ben McLemore should see an uptick in usage.

Now utilizing a non-traditional all-small starting lineup, Houston has prioritized three-point shooting over rebounding, a category in which it ranks last in the NBA since Feb. 1 (44.8% rebounding percentage). Limiting the explosive Rockets to just one possession on the offensive end will be a huge first step for the Hornets in hopefully closing out their homestand with a victory.

Game Notes: G Eric Gordon (right knee soreness) is also out for Houston… The Rockets are 6-4 this season without Westbrook in the lineup… The Hornets have lost seven straight meetings with Houston (last win: 125-109 at home on March 12, 2016).

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